By Carol Schachet
December 11th, 2009
As dignitaries and politicians meet in Copenhagen to discuss ways to curtail climate change, some of the people most affected by the crisis are also present, including the Via Campesina. One of Grassroots International’s partners, the Via represents more than 150 million small farmers, fishers and producers worldwide. As Henry Saragih, General Coordinator of Via Campesina, notes in the speech below, small farmers are cooling down the earth, while big industrial farms pose grave risks.
Why We Left Our Farms to Come to Copenhagen
As one of the articles today in the German newspaper In Spiegel points out, the conference in Copenhagen around climate change is largely defined by wish-washy intentions and the introduction (or redefinition) new words: Green, Bio, Organic, Renewable and…Development. On one side of the Development debate are those who advocate for economic growth, while on the other side are the farmers, indigenous people and urban workers who claim that Development has contributed to their social and economic plight.
I have had the privilege of being the point person for Grassroots International on our U.S-based advocacy work on food and farm policy issues. A large part of this work is done in conjunction with our allies in the US Working Group on the Global Food Crisis, where Grassroots is a member of the ad hoc steering committee I have been working to raise the voices of Grassroots’ partners, like the Via Campesina, in the policy solutions put forward for consideration in Washington. Among the strategies for which our partners, and we, advocate is a transition away from large-scale industrialized fossil-fuel-dependent agriculture toward a more earth and people friendly model of sustainable agriculture.
Cab drivers are often a good source of news information, or at least a good barometer of public opinion. Such was the case when I finally arrived in Mexico City this afternoon for visits with Grassroots International’s partners here.
The city hasn’t changed from the last time I came--the same heavy traffic and the same cloud of pollution above our heads. In the cabin of my taxi, I found an old newspaper with photos of damage in Cancun courtesy of Hurricane Ida last week. They are dramatic. Sections of the flat sand beaches of the famous tourist spot were left uneven. A caption on one photo says that the wild waves had carved out a seven-foot high wall in the sand!
And, the answer is...350. That is 350 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere, the upper limit for sustainability of life, human life anyway. The question, however, is why are more -- not less -- Americans not convinced about the dangers of global warming and climate change in 2009 than in 2006? A new poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press released yesterday, found some alarming downward trends. Only 35 percent of Americans see global warming as a serious problem, and about 57 percent believe there is solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), an independent international research and development organization, recently published a book that should be of interest to Grassroots International's supporters. Available free online, Towards Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming Autonomous Food Systems offers great analysis and links to video and audio files that show farmers, indigenous peoples and consumers all working to promote food sovereignty.
Throughout the world, social movements are the driving force behind a new food sovereignty policy framework, which aims to guarantee and protect people's space, ability and right to define their own models of production, food distribution and consumption patterns.
October 17th is marked as by the United Nations as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. At Grassroots International, we have been working with our partners for over 25 years towards achieving that goal. Clearly, a lot needs to be done to get us there.
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) recently published a report on the country’s agricultural sector. The last report had been published in 1996. The new document supports several points raised by peasant organizations, such as our partner the Via Campesina International, around the critical role of the small scale agriculture to climate justice and hunger. The main points are outlined below.
Today is World Food Day!
World Food Day is celebrated every year on October 16 – the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. World Food Day raises awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger. This year's theme for World Food Day is "Achieving food security in times of crisis."
A critical issue related to food and agriculture that is finally gaining more attention is climate change. Industrial agriculture contributes significantly to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.
By Daniel Moss
September 23rd, 2009
Chances are, the average U.S. resident has no idea that their demand for electricity might require that a Mexican village be flooded for a hydroelectric dam. The question is: if the human cost were known, would we consume just a little bit less?
At Grassroots International, our bet is that a little bit of knowledge would go a long way. For those who value human rights, that high social and environmental cost is not likely to sit right.
Our unabashedly biased perspective is based upon the way we’ve worked for more than a quarter century: offering financial support to communities around the world whose natural resources have been extracted and despoiled and sharing their stories in living rooms, community centers and across cyberspace.